Nanao Old Trail (aka Nanao Historic Trail or Nanao Old Raod) is a historic hiking trail in Yilan County, Taiwan. It was once a major route for the Ayatal aboriginal tribe, and was improved by during the Japanese colonial era. Now you can hike only a small section of the original trail, but you can still see beautiful mountainous scenes, rivers, and wildlife, as well as appreciate the history here.
Nanao Old trail was an important trail built by the Ayatal Indigenous Tribe in Taiwan to connect villages in the mountains of Yilan.
In 1874, the Qing Dynasty blasted a road through Ayatal lands from Yilan to Hualien, but after a few years they were unable to maintain it due to constant attacks from the Ayatal tribesmen. Therefore the road was soon abandoned.
During the Japaneses era in the early 1900s, the Japanese pacified the local people, and improved the Nanao Old Trail and set up police stations and checkpoints along the road to better control the native population and obtain resources in the area. The road stretched 27.5KM from Nanao to Datong Township.
After the ROC took control of Taiwan, the trail was opened for recreational purposes.
In 2012, most of the trail was closed due to damage from Typhoon Saola (蘇拉), and has never been fully repaired. Now only 3 kilometers of the original trail remain open to the public.
3KM one way, about 3 hours
Tours and Activities:
You can purchase tours and tickets for many activities in Yilan such as Su'ao Crayon Castle, Taipingshan, Turtle Island, Lanyang Museum, Toucheng Leisure Farm, Zhang Mei Ama Capybura Farm, Bambi Land, Yinong Ranch, National Center for Traditional Arts, Taxi Museum, Glamping, Camping, ATV / 4-wheeling experience, SUP / paddle boarding, Ximeng Forest Theater, Surfing, Kayaking, Horse Riding, River Tracing, River Rafting, River Tubing, Pack Rafting, Water Biking, Snorkeling, Canoeing, Shrimping and many others through Klook here or KKday here.
Looking for a hotel? We recommend booking through Agoda here, which provides the best quality selection of accommodation on the islands.
We have stayed at and recommend Ying Shih Guest House, a resort in Datong Township near Taipingshan and Fan Fan Hot Spring (you can book on Agoda here or Booking.com here), and Jiaosi Hotspring Hotel, a hotel with hot springs in each room (you can book on Agoda here, Booking.com here, Hotels.com here, Expedia here, or Trip.com here). We have also stayed at Toucheng Leisure Farm, a recreational farm and experience center in Toucheng (you can book on Agoda here, Booking.com here, Hotels.com here, Expedia here, on Klook here, or on Trip.com here).
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How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: Take the Suhua Highway to Wuta, the turn west on Wutabuluo Communication Raod (武塔部落聯絡道), and keep going up the mountain valley until you reach the very end of the road. The trail starts there. Looking for scooter rental in Yilan? You can search Klook here or KKday here to look for options. You can also check out our scooter rental guide here.
If you are looking for car rentals in Yilan, you can also search Klook here or KKDay here. You can also check out our car rental guide here.
By Train: You can take a train to Wuta Station, and then walk or take a taxi 11 KM to the trailhead. But then you need to think how you will get back. You can book tickets to travel to Yilan via inter-city bus on Klook here. You can book tickets to Yialn via high speed rail (HSR) on Klook here or KKDay here. Book tickets via the normal train (TRA) on Klook here.
Bicycle rental: Cycling is the best way to enjoy Taiwan's landscapes if you have the time and energy. Looking for bicycle rentals in Taiwan? You can search on KKday here and search for tours on Klook here. You can also check out our Taiwan cycling guide here.
Please see below:
We first visited Nanao Old trail on our round island trip in our Nissan March rental car. It was a nice hike and a good way to enjoy nature on Taiwan's East Coast.
We parked off the Suhua highway, at the Suhua Highway Monument (蘇花公路安魂碑) to enjoy the beautiful Yilan coastline before we made it to the trail.
The monument was made to remember the brave souls who died making the Suhua Highway.
Driving down a one lane tunnel along the Suhua Highway.
Soon we were on our way to Wuta, and had to pass up through the mountain valley.
The improved Suhua Highway was being built at that time in 2014.
The road up to the trailhead looks like this.
The road abruptly stops here, and it looks like they didn't try to make it any longer. We then traveled on foot. I recall on the way we also ran into an entire fire department that were hiking together on the trail.
Remnants of the Nanao Old Trail built in the Japanese era.
Someone's mountain retreat, that requires a gravel bridge to get across.
It seems like the bridge to this house would get easily washed out.
No catching butterflies. And watch out for snakes and bees.
What seems to be a traditional hut or rest area along the trail.
Another Japanese era suspension bridge in ruins over a creek.
Passing over suspension bridge number one.
A nice view of the mountains from the trail.
Another view of the beautiful mountain valley.
Second, smaller suspension bridge.
Bird'e nest along the trail.
"This river was not always called "Nanaonan River." The mountains and forests here were once populated by the Atayal Tribe, who named the various sections of the watershed after a local village, a preeminent inhabitant or even an event that happened there.
View upstream along the trail.
That is the end! The end of the trail came kind of suddenly. It looks like the trail is still walk able from this point, but we didn't want to risk out lives.
You can purchase tours and tickets for many activities in Yilan such as surfing, kayaking, horse riding, river tracing, river rafting, river tubing, pack rafting, water biking, snorkeling, canoeing, and many others through Klook here or KKday here.
You can see our full guide to Yilan here.
Check out our full guide to Taiwan's Northern Coast here and our full guide Taiwan's East Coast here.
You can also check out our full travel guide to Taiwan here.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.